The study examined the outcomes of participatory fisheries management in Mweru- Luapula fishery in northern Zambia. The main objectives were to: evaluate the performance of Village Fisheries Management Committees (VFMCs), analyze participation of fishers in management activities and to assess fishers' compliance to fisheries regulations. Data were collected through structured interviews with 64 respondents, five focus group discussions and two key semi-structured interviews. Ostrom's eight design principles and White's typology of Interests was employed to analyze VFMCs performance and fisher participation respectively. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were employed to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data respectively. Results show that inadequate financial support to the Department of Fisheries has culminated in the capture of benefits by VFMC positions by local elites, and ultimately weakened enforcement of fisheries regulation. A nominal form of participation characterizes the co-management as resource users are not engaged in decision making and power still resides with the Department of Fisheries. Low compliance to the seasonal fish ban by fishers due to inconsistent patrols by VFMCs and Department of Fisheries has resulted in persistence of illegal fishing practices that threaten conservation of fish in the fishery. The minor positive outcomes of co-management suggest its ineffectiveness in curbing illegal fishing activities. A common property regime where smaller groups of fishers exploit a portion of the fishery with locally designed operational rules is therefore recommended to replace the ‘consultative’ type of co-management prevailing in Mweru- Luapula fishery.
Compliance; Common pool resources; Participation; Co-management.